Today is Easter Sunday!
The activities are endless, with traditions of 5 am sunrise services, the family adorned in bright-colored floral clothing with country club brunches to follow.
The families flock to the churches, children paraded like a fashion show with braids and beads, all matching the parents in tow that capture the picture-perfect shot. I too have fond memories of such occasions.
Why are we doing this? Don't worry or fear the question, I'm only asking so I too can grow in my faith. I will participate nicely and support our sacraments, our practices that give our lives meaning.
Nothing will ruin a good ole fashioned Christian holiday like questioning its origin. Let me tell ya, just ask the family and guests sitting around the brunch buffet where Easter (and Christmas) originated and you'll hear the angelic sounds screech to silence, grandma choke on her food as everyone peers up from their full plates at each other in awkwardness like they just found a turd in the punch bowl.
Ya, I've been this guy and its near impossible to recover, so mind your manners, play your part and don't cause disruption. This is no place to impress the new girlfriend's parents with your poetical waxing of philosophical history. Besides, the prime rib and mimosas are really good on Easter.
We quietly dismiss and quickly ignore the origin of Easter having serious roots in pagan rituals and practices that break the commandments and a slew of other imposed church rules that allow us to say, "I'm a good Christian."
Oh my, our traditions. Do they serve us? With curious questioning and the ways I can improve my own walk with the teachings of Jesus, I hope to honor what he preached, his death for humanity paving a direct route to God and Christ Consciousnesses of the entire planet, never to be the same. Wow, what is not to be grateful for?
The Christian holidays are different for me though. In our natural desire of gathering the tribes, eager to make certain all the preparations are made, we forget the WHY of what we're doing and sadly, we miss these yearly reminders to reconnect to the divinity that surrounds.
This is a day of reverent celebration that Jesus is the King of Kings and the divine son of God, escaping the one thing that claims us all, rising from the ashes of death from behind the sealed and heavily guarded tomb, he broke free. As far as we know, he is the only enlightened being among a short list of ones that changed the world, and yet...escaped death.
Jesus re-birthed from a lowly carpenter, martyred and betrayed by his countrymen, living only a brief 33 years on earth with the last three being one of intense mission, walking day-by-day for humanly provision, connecting to a source we still, 3,000 years later have difficulty articulating.
Three of his confidants recorded his gospel of teachings that boiled down to only two main points above all else. 1) Love God. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. Big sigh of relief...I think I can do those two things like the son of God did in his perfection...I think.
How we get the practice of hiding chocolate eggs laid by bunnies from children adorned in their Sunday best as we giggle along escapes me. Doesn't matter, it's fun and brings us together, that is, if you have that kind of setup.
You see, I don't. Holidays for me have become a day mostly of quiet solitude. For 25 years, estranged from my family of origin, I've formed my own traditions and transmuted them into a deep spiritual practice of connecting with God, walking with Jesus and digesting the wisdom of the sages and Mystics to find great comfort and soul expanding awareness.
No, my practice isn't any better or worse than anyone else and I have no cynicism for what we do, I've just not really ever been part of it all, causing my worship to look a little different.
I'm not alone in this walk as there are a multitude of others that share similar stories and experiences and have learned that there are many ways to worship whatever form of "God" you've chosen for yourself.
My friends are my family and they are usually off with their families of origin, fulfilling those expected duties and running through a list of metrics to achieve on these holy days that revolve around gifts, laughs, praise and food...lots of food.
Being a pastor at heart, un-tethered from affiliations or preferences to ordinances or the confinements of any one practice, this day reminds me to return again and again to the two simple assignments Jesus gave us...to Love. Love God. Love your neighbor.
Easter gives us re-birth. Renewal into the most beautiful parts of ourselves, that highest version of godliness buried deeply within like the purity of gold that heats up in the cisterns of life to be refined. Jesus cleansed us and gave us a way to surrender, as he did in the face of perilous odds, the inescapable death barreling down on him as he carried his own cross and suffered to exude that final cry to his father, displaying the ultimate sacrifice of love, "father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
No whining. No self-absorbed notions of escape...just total, complete surrender into death to be reborn only three short days later. He was not a victim of circumstances, rather a captain of his fate, a brave pioneer into new ways of thinking to show a dark world how to be, and what it meant to love.
THIS, is the message of Easter and it's a practice we can do everyday when we silence our minds, settle our hearts and give in to a source of all creation, all beauty, right here and now...called LOVE.
THAT is glorious! He showed us that in the pits of despair, when all else looks bleak, we can truly THRIVE. We can live well and hold our face to the heavens, connect directly with God and love, truly love our neighbors and practice this religion he martyred himself for in the way of a calling.
Rebirth yourself into love. Rebirth yourself into your highest and best form to experience renewal of your soul so you too can take your reign at the right hand of God as royal sons and daughters of the most high.
Heaven is here, now, in this moment of presence. And on this special day, may we raise our consciousness to translate "Happy Easter" into a message of continual renewal and rebirth to see ourselves, to see each other, as the royalty we are.
Happy Easter, everyone. I love you.